Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mayor Morrissey? His Move to Church Hill Hints at a Run

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 12:40 PM

Former mayor Leonidas Young stands next to Joe Morrissey shortly after Morrissey pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Former mayor Leonidas Young stands next to Joe Morrissey shortly after Morrissey pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Joe Morrissey confirmed this weekend that he plans to leave the House of Delegates for a run at the state Senate. But his ambition doesn’t stop in the General Assembly. Several sources with knowledge of his long-term strategy say that in 2016, Morrissey plans to enter the race to be the next mayor of Richmond.

Morrissey made headlines in January when he campaigned for and won a seat in the House while he was an inmate at the Henrico County Jail. He served the entire session while living in jail, attending legislative sessions through a court-sanctioned work-release program. Morrissey pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but maintains his innocence.

Now out of jail, Morrissey declines to comment on his mayoral aspirations, but confirms his intention to enter the Democratic primary in the 16th Senate District. His seat, which includes parts of Richmond, Henrico and Charles City, doesn’t overlap with the Senate district, which is represented by Roslyn Dance of Petersburg.

Morrissey says he’s moved from his Henrico house to an apartment in Church Hill, which is in the Senate district. He says he’s in the market to buy a house and has looked at several properties in the neighborhood.

Petersburg Delegate Joe Preston also has announced his intention to run for the Senate seat, previously held by Richmond Sen. Henry Marsh. He left the legislature last year for an appointment to serve as a commissioner of the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Dance won a special election to fill the seat last year.

Morrissey has served as a Democrat, but ran as an independent in his most recent election. Democrats aren’t thrilled by his return to party politics.

“Joe Morrissey will do whatever it takes to further his own ambition,” says Morgan Finkelstein, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “I’m not shocked that he’d abandon his constituents to run for another office in another place. He has zero to do with our party or our values.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

City Deal With Stone Brewing Finalized

The brewery is scheduled to be ready in January.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 12:24 PM

Stone Brewing Co. plans to open a restaurant at Intermediate Terminal. Some city restaurant owners questioned the city’s plan to finance its construction. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Stone Brewing Co. plans to open a restaurant at Intermediate Terminal. Some city restaurant owners questioned the city’s plan to finance its construction.

The Richmond Economic Development Authority finalized its lease with Stone Brewing Co. last week, setting a construction schedule that calls for the $23-million, city-funded brewery to be ready at the end of January.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced in October that Stone, a major West Coast brewery, planned to expand its operations to Richmond.

Months of debate followed, ending last month, when City Council unanimously approved the final and most controversial piece of the deal -- an $8 million restaurant.

The development deal is structured so that Stone will repay the city for the cost of both the brewery and the restaurant over the course of a 25-year lease.

The city and Stone signed the lease on March 11. An authority administrator released it to the media Tuesday morning.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Beer Is Out of the Bag

Ballast Point is the West Coast brewery looking at Richmond.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 3:42 PM

As Style first reported earlier this week, a second West Coast brewery expressed interest in Richmond as result of the city's deal with Stone Brewing. This afternoon the Times-Dispatch named that brewery as Ballast Point.

State and local sources initially confirmed rumors about Ballast Point's interest to Style on the condition that the specific brewery not be named, citing concern that early publicity could sour the deal.

Ballast Point, which is the 29th largest craft brewer in the country by volume, declines to comment.

The sources say that are still in early stages. It's unclear what other localities Ballast Point may be considering.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Undercover Drugs

Richmond Police spending on narcotics goes up.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 1:00 AM


Richmond Police spent $12,700 on illegal drugs last year, according to a city audit of the department’s Special Investigations Division released Tuesday.

That’s up from $8,700 in 2013, according to the audit, which found no major issues with the division’s use of funds and recordkeeping.

The department uses confidential informants to buy narcotics as part of its drug-enforcement operations.

The city auditor’s office suggests that police perform more frequent background checks on confidential informants.

Police officials say they plan to implement all of the city auditor’s recommendations.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Married by McAuliffe: Governor Applies to Become Civil Celebrant

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Since taking office, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has presided over two weddings. He apparently enjoyed himself, because last week he took steps to become a fully vested civil celebrant.

McAuliffe submitted an application with Richmond Circuit Court and paid the $86 filing fee. If his request is granted, it gives McAuliffe the power to officiate marriages of whomever, whenever.

McAuliffe so far has married two same-sex couples after applying for and receiving one-time authorizations from the court. The first was in October, shortly after the ruling that legalized the practice, and the second was in January.

McAuliffe’s spokesman, Brian Coy, says the first two women were family friends of one of the governor’s aides. The January ceremony was at the request of a state trooper who is close to the couple, Coy says.

Coy says he’s unaware of McAuliffe’s plans for future ceremonies.

“As far as we can gather,” Coy says, “he is the third governor in the nation and the first in the South to preside over a same-sex marriage.”

Stone Brewing Goes on the Offense

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 1:00 AM

Stone Brewing Co. is going on a public-relations offensive to counter complaints by some local restaurant and brewery owners about the economic development deal drawing the business to Richmond.

Stone plans to launch a Richmond-specific website to offer the company’s take on the $32 million, city-funded project, alongside testimonials from restaurant owners and brewers in San Diego, California, where Stone is based, according to Craig Spitz, the company’s chief financial officer.

“A lot of people will make negative comments when they don’t really know the situation,” Spitz says. “So we want to basically put a website together that people can go to and see what’s going on and the real situation.”

Stone offered a preview of its strategy last week, playing a four-minute video at a Richmond City Council hearing which featured testimonials from San Diego restaurant owners.

“If Stone wasn’t in the community and I found out they were moving into the part of San Diego I’m in, I’d be absolutely thrilled,” says one interviewee, Grant Tondro, who owns three restaurants in the area. “What’s happened with the beer culture in San Diego in particular, as well as the food culture, as a result of Stone coming in is immeasurable.”

Spitz says Stone is in the process of producing more videos.

The city is taking out $23 million in bonds to finance the construction of Stone’s Richmond brewery in the Fulton Hill area. It will put up another $8 million for Stone to construct a riverfront restaurant.

The plan is for Stone to pay the money back in lease payments over the next 25 years. At the end of the lease, the company has the option to buy the brewery and land for $25,000.

City economic development officials say the deal will bring hundreds of jobs and spark long-needed revitalization in the Fulton neighborhood.

Some local restaurant owners and brewers aren’t so sure. They’ve said it looks more like the city is subsidizing competition in an already crowded marketplace.

This won’t be Stone’s first foray into public relations. Shortly after the deal was announced last year, the company's marketing staff wrote and circulated a long article detailing the project and how the company wound up in Richmond.

And two weeks ago, the brewery played host to two City Council members, who made an unpublicized, cross-country trip to tour Stone’s San Diego facility. The members, Ellen Robertson and Cynthia Newbille, who initially declined to discuss the trip with Style, say they went in part to explore concerns raised by local restaurant owners. Newbille paid for her trip. Robertson says she used City Council funds.

“I walked away with a whole new perspective related to the corporation,” Robertson says.

Both women stressed that their research didn’t end with the trip. Newbille says that in going over the numbers upon returning home, “the return on investment is clear.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the author of Stone's blog post about its decision to come to Richmond.

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